Recent events in Moncton point to a problem deeper than targeted vandalism. Almost two weeks ago, someone littered a neighborhood with posters that lampooned the NB Minister of Finance and her just-nominated female political colleague. Both were depicted as female puppets controlled by and dependent on male leadership. Public outcry was swift with political colleagues denouncing the act and the articulate Minister confidently defending herself and the Premier. The dust on the issue settled quickly with the situation publicly considered an isolated incident.
My experience as political candidate, however, suggests differently. Politics and the political culture of New Brunswick remain a tightly controlled Old Boys Club, an environment where women are rare, and remain devalued or dismissed as secondary players. One of the hallmarks of a democracy is that it reflects the diversity and interests of its citizens. On this measure New Brunswick continues to fail.
New Brunswick was the 7th province to grant women the right to vote and the 9th to grant women the right to run for provincial office. Brenda Robertson in 1967 was the first woman elected as MLA and in 1970 became the first female Cabinet Minister. Our integration of women in politics still has us in last place compared with other provinces. Only 16% of New Brunswick’s elected MLAs are women, a rate that has not improved for almost 20 years.
This reality extends beyond the doors of the Chamber and into the offices of the leaders where senior political staffers remain predominantly male. Journalists in the press gallery remain predominantly male. The top civil service and lobbyist positions remain predominately male.
While gender representation is better in Canadian federal politics, still only 26% of our elected MPs are women. It is believed that 30 to 33% representation is needed to begin to change a Political agenda and culture. Studies show that with better gender representation, economies strengthen and governance improves.
Tabitha Southey in her recent MacLean’s opinion piece describes the federal political climate as one where women are “routinely condemned as too ugly to be seen or too pretty to be taken seriously." She refers to the experience of federal Environment Minister, Catherine McKenna, after she called out Rebel Media for repeatedly referring to her as ‘Climate Barbie’.
Southey went on to say some critics then described her as ‘undignified’, suggesting “'if she wants to be a minister, she has to have thicker skin,' thicker skin is the thing women are expected to grow at the same time they’re being told to lighten up." The same level of fortitude Southey suggests is not demanded of men, who are mostly ‘reacting’, not ‘over reacting’ to an affront to their dignity.
Monique Bégin, the highly respected former MP, in her recent speech to MPs and Senators focused on male political power and described toxic masculinity in politics. She states she is no longer interested in seeing the glass ceiling shattered. Rather, she says it’s the ‘roots of patriarchy’ that need to be addressed. She says it is the sexual abuse, and systemic harassment that limits women’s true access to power, and as such she calls for a transformational shift in the way we do politics. She calls for a political environment that is safe and respectful for both women and men.
NB Green Party Leader David Coon when speaking in the Legislature this past week concerning the postering incident in Moncton, stressed the important role all MLAs have to become ‘a part of the solution’. Indeed, when members undermine one another, pounce on one another’s perceived weakness, and act to win at one another’s expense, we are all worse for it. These behaviors alienate the very people MLAs are elected to represent. Indeed, we are long overdue for a transformational collaborative shift in the way we do politics.
Recently I have had women speak with me expressing interest in serving their community by running for political office. While they express concern about the financial cost and potential impact on their family, their primary concern is the nasty, destructive behavior they see currently practiced in political circles. The smart, highly skilled tenacious leaders that they are, they still question if their effort is better spent in social activist or other community career development work, rather than investing in political life. Without transformational change in our political culture we will never experience the full benefit of these women as political leaders.
Marilyn Merritt-Gray is a nurse and lifelong advocate for women’s health and rural services. She is the Green Party Candidate for Gagetown-Petticodiac.
November 15, 2017
''I am pleased to welcome Denis Boulet to our growing number of nominated candidates in advance of the upcoming election,” said Coon ”Denis will be a strong voice for the people of Madawaska-Les-Lacs-Edmundston, " said David Coon, leader of the Green party and MLA for Fredericton South.
Denis Boulet had this to say about his nomination: ''I'm honored to be given this opportunity to meet with the people of Madawaska, listen to their concerns, and discuss Green policies with them. While the Green Party may seem like a novelty at first, the bottom-up approach of the Greens harkens to the historic roots of our democracy. It echoes a social heritage shared by all the peoples of New Brunswick, in which any problem faced by a community can be solved as a community. I intend to run a campaign that will bring people together for the common good and empower communities. "
Denis Boulet is the sixth Green party candidate to be nominated. The next nomination meeting will occur on November 20th at the Kinsmen Club of Fredericton. Media Advisory to follow.
Fredericton - David Coon, Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick and MLA for Fredericton South, is insisting that the government, in partnership with NB Liquor, implement a comprehensive strategy aimed at alcohol harm reduction.
“We have been increasing the availability and visibility of alcohol in our province, with the appearance hard liquor amongst chips and skittles in our convenience stores” says Coon. “The Department of Health NB Liquor is neither tracking the effects of, nor implementing a public awareness campaign to address this increased availability.”
On October 31st Coon tabled a motion urging that the government, in partnership with NB Liquor, adopt a comprehensive strategy aimed at reducing alcohol harm that involves regulating prices, limiting the physical availability of alcohol and a public awareness campaign that promotes responsible alcohol consumption.
“Alcohol is the leading cause of injury and death in Canada,” said Coon. “Excessive drinking bears numerous known health risks including certain types of cancer. In 2012 it was found that 20.5% of alcohol consumers in New Brunswick exceeded the chronic alcohol drinking guidelines. It’s time our government prioritise the health of New Brunswickers and develop a comprehensive strategy to reduce alcohol consumption and alcohol related disease and death in the province.”
Fredericton - David Coon, Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick and MLA for Fredericton South, is urging the government to support his motions to give the Committees of the Legislature greater authority and autonomy.
“Our legislative committees currently lack the necessary authority to fulfill the mandates the Legislative Assembly gave them years ago. Whether it is examining the spending of public money by government departments, reviewing proposed legislation, or ensuring the recommendations of Legislative Officers such as the Child, Youth and Seniors Advocate, our committees are hamstrung,” said Coon.
Today, Coon tabled two motions. First, he wants members of the Legislature to give committees the authority to call for persons, papers, and documents.
“Just like most other parliaments in Canada, our legislative committees should have the ability to hear testimony from the public, representatives of groups, experts or public official to help us in our work to make laws, develop policy proposals, and recommend improvements to expenditure of public moneys by government departments,” said Coon.
Secondly, he tabled a motion that would mandate Legislative Officers, other than the Auditor General, to present their annual reports, and special reports containing recommendations, to the Standing Committee on Procedures, Privileges and Legislative Officers.
“The Standing Committee on Public Accounts is responsible for following up on the implementation of the recommendations made by the Auditor General, but at the moment, recommendations made by other Legislative Officers, such as the Child, Youth and Seniors Advocate, go nowhere. I believe the Standing Committee Responsible for Legislative Officers should be mandated to receive and follow-up on the reports and recommendations of all the other legislative officers,” said Coon.
“It is my hope that these motions receive the support of government and that we see them passed by the Legislature this session,” said Coon.
Fredericton – David Coon, Leader of the Green party of New Brunswick and MLA for Fredericton South started the legislative session by tabling a bill to restore some fairness to property tax assessments.
If adopted, Coon’s bill to amend the Assessment Act would remove the exemption for crude oil storage tanks, as well as for industrial machinery and equipment in heavy industry.
“The exemption for crude oil storage tanks was created in response to the 1979 oil crisis, which ended decades ago,” said Coon. “And a recent report prepared for the Saint John Common Council indicated that removing exemptions for heavy industry on machinery and equipment would ensure it pays its fair share of property taxes.
“For example, property tax revenue from heavy industry in Saint John represents only 8% of its tax base. The Saint John Regional Hospital pays almost twice the property tax paid by the refinery. The McAllister Mall pays far more property tax than the Irving pulp and paper mill. The Conference Board of Canada found that New Brunswick has one of lowest burdens of net business taxes in the country,” said Coon
Le français suit
18 October 2017
For Immediate Release
Statement by the Green Party Leader during Autism Awareness Month
Fredericton – David Coon, Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick and MLA for Fredericton South made the following statement in recognition of Autism Awareness Month:
“Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurological disorder estimated to affect one in 94 children in Canada between six to nineyears old, and those numbers are rising. New Brunswick is known for its inclusive education and early behavioral intervention for pre-school aged children with ASD. The problem is that when youth leave the public school system, the services they have been provided drop off.”
“October is Autism Awareness Month. It is the perfect time to remind our government that we need to be investing in affordable, specialized support for adults with autism.”
Media Contact: Shannon Carmont
Donna Linton: Coordinator of the Volunteer Centre of Charlotte County elected by the members in St. Croix
Saint Stephen, October 3rd, 2017
'' Donna Linton has spent much of her career serving families in Charlotte County, and they know she will bring her profound commitment to them to the Legislative Assembly as their MLA," said David Coon, leader of the Green party and MLA for Fredericton South.
Donna had this to say about her nomination: ''
Donna Linton is the fifth Green party candidate to be nominated. The next nomination meeting will occur on November 20th at the Kinsmen Club of Fredericton. Media Advisory to follow.
Saint John, September 27th, 2017
Wayne Dryer, strong voice for fair taxation elected by party members in Saint John Harbour
'' Wayne Dryer has devoted his life to serving others. All people of St. John Harbour will have a real voice in the Legislative Assembly should the choose Wayne as their representative, and in doing so they will have elected a true parliamentarian, " said David Coon, leader of the Green party and MLA for Fredericton South.
Wayne Dryer had this to say about his nomination: '' The Green Party is a principled, revolutionary movement that has its roots in its concern with the environment. It has evolved into a party that recognizes that you cannot take care of the environment without making fundamental changes to the very democratic process through which these decisions about the environment are being made. The Green Party is about doing politics differently.''
Ryan Lanigan our second nominee congratulated Dryer. "Thank you to everyone who attended this evening and showed their support; it was greatly appreciated. Congratulations to Wayne and I look forward to working with you and David in preparation for 2018."
Dryer is the fourth Green party candidate to be nominated. The next nomination meeting will occur on October 3th at the St. Croix Vineyard Church in St. Stephen. Media Advisory to follow.
Fredericton, September 27th, 2017
Media Advisory - Two entrepreneurs are seeking the nominations for Saint John Harbour
Fredericton - The nomination meeting for the Saint John Harbour riding will take place on September 27th from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Social Enterprise Hub located on 139 Prince Edward Street in Saint-John. David Coon, leader of the Green Party and MLA for Fredericton South, will be present to support the nominees.
Seeking nomination for Saint John Harbour are Wayne Dryer and Ryan Lanigan.
Wayne is an entrepreneur and partner of Thera Ped. He is also a pastor of Germain St. United Baptist Church where he realized that the problems facing individuals in his community could only be resolved by addressing the social and political structural issues that created them. He became involved in poverty reduction strategies, social housing, the opposition to the LNG terminal and in advocating for an alternative to the P3 funding model for Saint John’s water treatment system. In recent years he has been a strong opponent of the unjust tax concessions enjoyed by some large corporations in New Brunswick which are contributing to the financial difficulties the province is experiencing.
Ryan has worked throughout the province of New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada in numerous industries as a business development representative. He has seen firsthand and worked with those who are the backbone of our economy, while also providing innovative solutions for these organizations and their facilities. He has partaken in the successes of productive environmental policies and as a result, he was able to experience the economic growth that comes with it. Over the past decade, Ryan has been involved with the Saint John Trojans Rugby Football Club and the rugby community in New Brunswick.
For more information about the nominees please visit:
If you have any questions feel free to call us.